The story of a very young goalkeeper

Sorry for the gibberish article, but this being laid out using my mobile phone…

Seven years ago when this little goalkeeper was born, his father had a dream. He wanted his firstborn to become a soccer goalie, a goalkeeper, an amazing goalkeeper. His dad was also a GK, but he didn’t really go that far in his soccer played career.

As soon as he was born his father purchased all the soccer kits he could find and as soon as that little boy could walk he started playing soccer with him in the back yard. Goals, Balls, gloves you name it they had it all set up back there.

Blake Zucchi

Time went by and the little goalkeeper had quickly turned 5 years old. This is when he entered the U8 City recreational soccer tournament. He had already been training as a goalkeeper for a few years and was ready to start playing and integrate in a team of children, this was something a lot different than his back yard and just taking shots from his dad.

At the City soccer placement day, he demoed for all the coaches, a dozen kids two to three years older than him took the shots. His father was behind the goal standing very proudly watching his boy save every shot that they landed. The demo lasted around 10-12 minutes and as soon as it was over 7 of the 8 coaches moved forward, circling the dad asking him if his son would like to play on their team. They were all kindly turned down as his father signed up to coach a team and his son was his first pick.

The City Soccer Season was of great help to this boy, he was finally in a team. The amazing thing though was that his team made it all the way to the final, he went back home with his first trophy. At his first shot at soccer he was already a winner!

Blake Zucchi

It was then time to get this boy on a competitive soccer team at the local youth soccer club. Only to find out he was too young to play, but was welcome to train with a team. It was noticeable from the beginning, that the little goalkeeper was not considered one of the pack, not that much by the coach, but by his teammates and the team manager. He was never accepted among his teammates, the team manager even refused to place him and his father on the team communication list (Teamsnap) and was also denied the little things, such as a training shirt or the club’s free personalized water bottle.

During the training sessions, when it was time to form groups of two or four and there were odd numbers, this boy was always left out, he was always the last to be picked! You could tell that he felt this exclusion from his teammates and even if he kept it inside, you could see he was suffering from it.

He never gave up on his teammates and insisted that his father took him to see them play, he would sit on the sideline and cheer them throughout the game. At the end of each game he would call their names out and say “good game” It was like he wasn’t even there, he was ignored.

At the end of that season he was removed from that hostile situation, that was doing him no good at all. The choice was to move him to another local soccer club, but that also turned out to be a bad choice. U9 division IV coed team. In 4 months playing there he had seen his team change 6 different coaches. The club was losing players and entire teams due to a very hostile administration.

The little goalkeeper however did get to play his first competitive games, losing most of them considering his team was crap (lol), but he got a lot of practice at the games thats for sure. It was what he needed and he got it.

Not to long ago his father (seeking a real soccer club) contacted the Director of Soccer Operations at Deltona United, the director asked them to come by for a tryout. Needless to say that the two Saturday sessions worked out very well, they wanted him and they didn’t hold back and told the father right away that they were willing to bump him up to a U10 team. This is where the 7 year old found his perfect fit. A very competent coach, nothing like the “Looney Tunes” he had as coaches prior to this. Great teammates and a great group of parents.

Blake Zucchi Deltona United

It was then that the little goalkeeper opened up to his father during a drive home from practice. He told his dad how bad he felt when his teammates in Port Orange would treat him the way they did and that he really felt left out. It was then that his father told him to sit in the front seat and gave him the news that he would be playing that team in a few weeks time.

The little keeper also shared his not-so-good times with a few of his teammates and knowing him well, that’s not usually something he is willing to share. He was very excited about the game and gave 100% of himself to get ready for it. He wanted to show them that he is a good goalkeeper and that he would have been a good teammate if they had ever given him the chance to prove it.

April 14th 2018 Airport Rd Park 9.30 a.m. Before the game the boys from Deltona all formed a circle and the Captain of the team gives a statement: “We need to win this game for Blake”, Blake is my son, I am his daddy. When I heard these words said by his teammates my heart blew up triple its size.

The game started with Blake on the bench, his teammate Manny was in goal and the first half ended 1-1. Second half Blake was in, you could see on his face the tension, he was very concentrated. Two amazing saves and his team then scored the 2-1 lead, another great save and his team scored another goal (3-1). four more saves and his team scores again, then again the 5-1 came in.

Blake saved at least 15 shots coming his way, he neutralized every ball heading towards the goal… save after save after save after save…



On the sideline I overreacted at every save my son made and at every goal one of his teammates scored, to the point where the ref had to come over and ask us to stay behind the red line.
My son wanted this win badly, and maybe because I knew how my son felt inside, I wanted this win as much as he did. I’m sure now he feels better and can move on. He proved his point, he wanted to beat them (and he beat them hard) and at the same time show them that he is a great goalkeeper and they certainly got the message. KARMA!!!

I’m very proud of my boy, he plays two years up, everyone around him is older, but he outperforms to stay at their age standards and even beyond, he thinks like a 10 year old and is a great team member and team leader if asked to be so. He is an amazing goalkeeper and this is just the start. He has worked very hard in these past years to get where he is and I’m very proud of him!

Blake Zucchi

Good job son!


FOLLOW UP: July 2022:

More than 4 years have gone by since that game. Lot’s has happened since then. Blake is no longer involved in local competitive soccer (even though he learned a lot from it), he has moved on and up!

Today Blake plays in the Development Academy (MLS Next) at Orlando City. The season 2022/23 is very important for him as he will be preparing himself for  the Orlando City Academy. 

Blake needs to improve on footwork and tweak his already advanced saving techniques. He works on his goalkeeping on a daily basis even throughout the summer. Blake is lucky enough to work from time-to-time with the MLS team and goalkeeper coach Cesar Baena.

Maybe the next update of this article will be in another 4 years time? Maybe by then Blake will already be playing for the Pro-Lions!

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